Empowering Women, Youth is My Passion – Captain Caleb Danladi Bako
Kaduna, North-West, Nigeria
Captain Caleb Danladi Bako, is a Maritime expert and a PhD researcher.
He is the founder, Caleb Danladi Foundation, a Non-Governmental and non – profitable organization.
An organization meant to reach out to the most vulnerable members of the society.
In this interview with Zainab Tanimu of Newsreservoir, determined, focus and fire brand Bako opens up on his burning passion for the less privileged.
The foundation through its humanitarian services have according to him been working tirelessly to put smiles on the faces of not only the orphans but widows and the girl child which he described as a source of joy and fulfillment.
Wonder why a man is so passionate about women issues?
Sir, how long has your foundation been in existence?
The foundation was founded in 2013 but fully incorporated in May 2014.
Could you shed light on some of the activities of your foundation?
We have been working to improve the living standards of the less privileged in the society.
We focus on widow’s empowerment, assisting orphans who need education and entrepreneurship skills to better their future, supporting child education, offer humanitarian and charitable assistance to the victims of disaster and we focus on community and rural development.
We have trained and empower widows; we have supported child education, providing relief materials to internally displaced people, providing scholarships package to orphans among others.
As the founder, I believe we make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give. That is why I am committed to supporting women and youths to be self-reliance.
Why the interest in women issues considering your profession and you being a man?
People often ask me why, as a man I am so passionate about women, particularly when it comes to gender equality, women empowerment and support for girl child education.
I am passionate about women issues because I have seen so many women going through different terrible situations.
There is much that women go through that men don’t. I have read and seen reports where women are subjected to a different form of abuse ranging from domestic violence to verbal assault.
Some widows are subjected to different forms of hardship ranging from loss of properties to husbands’ relations, poor relationship with in-laws and depression. Some widows and orphans have been subjected to all forms of humiliation, insults and violation of human rights.
Girl child are faced with problems such as family abuse, domestic violence, sexual harassment, rejection by family that has directly impact their access to good and quality education.
For me, I don’t believe that society should go this way. I strongly believe that if we all work together, we will end all sort of violence and abuse against women.
As you are aware, I have been at the forefront of women empowerment and gender equality in Maritime sector. I strongly believe that gender equality is a right and fulfilling this right will go a long way in creating an inclusive work environment in shipping. It is going to protect principle of fairness and boost business performance.
Different administrations have come up with schemes targeted towards uplifting the standards of women and youth (e.g. women and youth empowerment programme etc). How successful has it been vis-vis the growing numbers of women in the society?
From Better life for rural women, which was initiated by the then-first lady of Federal Republic of Nigeria Late (Mrs) Maryam Babangida in 1987 to Aisha Buhari’s Youth and Women empowerment programme (Future Assured) among others. Most of these programs were successful for instance better life for rural women impacted positively on rural women. However, sustainability and reaching out to the target groups in rural areas has always been a challenge. Every government tends to come with its policies.
What would you say is the missing link?
I think the missing link is the sustainability of the programs; most of them are political.
In 2010 Patience Goodluck flag off women for change initiative which was aimed towards restoration of womanhood dignity, education of women especially girl child and microeconomic upliftment of women. Before that, Stella Obasanjo came with Childcare Trust, Turai Yar’aduwa came with Women and Youth empowerment foundation, Titi Atiku came with Women Trafficking and Child Labour eradication. All these policies and programs are good, but sustainability and reaching out to the target audience who are in rural areas has always been a challenge.
Where have we gotten it wrong?
Is difficult to predict where we have gotten it wrong. For every program that has been implemented towards women and youth development, there are pros and cons. Some of these programs have impacted on women life. The real cons are specific to the way they go about implementing the program as I said earlier, reaching out to the target audience.
I believe addressing the deep root of poverty is crucial. Educating rural women and awareness (avoiding gender discrimination) should be the first step of empowering rural women.
As an organization, interested in women issues, what are the mechanisms on ground in this direction?
As an organisation, Women empowerment has always been our priority.
The mechanism that we have in place includes education, awareness, support girls and women in crisis particularly child trafficking, child labour, domestic violence among others. Mentorship, investing in small scale business (empowerment), promoting gender equality, providing education especially to girl child, eliminating violence against women, eliminating discriminatory practice against women and promoting gender equality.
What is your success story so far?
I fill fulfilled that our NGO has made a positive impact in the lives of women particularly widows. I have been at the forefront of advocating for women in maritime sector. If you look back, the women statistic has increased dramatically. Today we have young female officers, engineers and pilots in Maritime sector.
We have successfully trained and empower women across the 23 LGA’s of Kaduna state. I have recently launched a women empowerment scheme that aims at supporting widows and vulnerable women in their business.
Girls child education has always been my priority; at the end of 2018, I launched a scheme (Child support scheme) that aims at supporting child education. This scheme gives hope to the hopeless; we have visited several schools and have donated reading and writing material.
We have received positive comments from head of schools.
What would you say are your challenges?
We are faced with several challenges; for instance, most women limit themselves to housewives; hence they do not challenge themselves enough. Culture has also been a challenge (harmful cultural practice). We need to embrace gender equality and social justice. We cannot shy away from education and awareness. Lack of adequate finance has been an issue. Limited participation of women in politics is a great hindrance.
How would you relate that of widowhood in Nigeria?
Widows in Nigeria are facing numerous challenges ranging from financial/Economic hardship, absence of husbands which has resulted in the loss of husband’s property, poor relationship with in-laws, lack of good shelter, failure to find basic amenities for their children, confiscation of assets by in-laws, depression as a result of cultural believe. Some women are kept in a confined location according to their cultural belief. As a result, most of them suffered emotional, mental and psychological problems.
Would you say the society has given this category of people their fair share?
I think some societies have not given widows their share; we keep receiving reports of in-laws confiscating, widows passing through untold hardship, humiliation among others.
In some traditional communities’ widows are victims of character assassination as they are perceived as witches, killers of their husband which is not true. Some traditions have intimidated, subdue and humiliate widows as a way of sustaining cultural obedience. Rather than being sympathised with and assisted are subjected to inhuman treatment.
I will say some communities are a difficult place to be a widow.
What then in your own opinion should be the needful?
I believe in fairness and Justice; widows must be treated with dignity and respect. I believe ignoring the needs and concerns of widows is ignoring a violation of the basic human rights of widow.
When a widow and her children are evicted from their homes because their husband died, is a violation of their right. We must find a way of eliminating/ challenging cultural practice that dehumanised widows.
The Government must do everything possible to empower widows and protecting their rights.
Creating awareness and empowering widows for self-reliance will go a long way not only in addressing untold hardship but will change the lives of widows.